My Heart Was As Tender As It Ever Was

Railroad depot at Culpeper Court House, Virginia. August 1862; wet plate negative, half of stereo pair, by Timothy O'Sullivan.
Railroad depot at Culpeper Court House, Virginia. August 1862; wet plate negative, half of stereo pair, by Timothy O’Sullivan.

Sept. 2 [1862] — Pass down to Groveton, where fearful fighting was done last week, August 28, 29 and 30. Horrid scenes! Many dead Federals still on the field, though a squad of their men, under flag of truce, has been some days caring for wounded and burying dead.

I found a wounded Federal sitting on the field – a broken thigh, a rifle ball through his arm and a bruised shoulder made him right helpless. His undressed wounds were sore. He asked me if I thought our surgeons would care for him. I assurred him they would. He said he had a wife and two little children in his northern home. His parents were pious and had raised him piously, but he had neglected his own soul. I said: “Brother, Jesus loves you. You came down here to kill my brothers, but I love you.” He broke down and sobbed aloud: “You don’t talk like one man that came here. He upbraided me.” He told me our men had been very good to him during the three or four days he had been there. As one hurried by he would give him water and food, and raise him up to rest certain tired muscles. Another would stop to give him more food and water and lay him down.

They had just taken the last Confederate wounded from that part of the field. He was on the surgeon’s table a few yards away. I trust this Federal was soon taken to that table. As I was about to hurry away to overtake my regiment he asked me to lay him down! How could I? Where could I take hold? I did the best I could. As I took him by the hand and commended him to God, I think my heart was as tender as it ever was. His bones may be in that field now. I hope to meet his soul in Heaven in a few years. Hurry on ten miles and overtake our regiment. Sleep cold and take cold. Frost next morning.

Alexander Davis Betts, D.D., Experience of a Confederate Chaplain 1861-1864.

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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